In her recent letter to the editor, Anne Rolfes asks: “In an age of high tech, green business, renewable energy and social entrepreneurism, are dangerous jobs at ammonia and steel plants really the best we can do?” I find myself gravely injured that someone would consider my industry, high tech, part of an age of anything renewable or green. Surely she does not believe that her laptop, tablet or electric car’s batteries are either green or renewable?
We may be moving into an age where these things will be green or renewable, but right now we seem to simply shifting the nasty parts of production elsewhere; a view I think Anne would be fine with: out of sight, out of mind.
I think — and I’m really stretching here — Anne is trying to say we need to further diversify our state’s economic foundations. This is something I believe strongly in, especially being in the aforementioned high tech industry, which our leaders fail repeatedly to comprehend. Speaking only as a representative of high tech, I can say that Louisiana is a hard sell. Our leaders are focused on what they know, the non-professional aspects of high tech, call centers and support offices. We lack the educational system and ability to control crime to such an extent that it is hard to get people to relocate their families here. I face this daily, an inability to even staff mid and upper-level positions either with local talent or through relocation. The net result: we work virtually, we export jobs, we open offices elsewhere. Those of us in this industry know with great certainty that relocation out of Louisiana is probably part of our career path.
Unlike Anne, I want it all right here. I want to see thriving careers in petrochemicals, high tech, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and even in whatever green jobs are. Provided, of course, that “green” doesn’t mean we’re destroying a nation half a world away. How we achieve it starts with electing leaders who don’t come from the current crop of yesterday’s thinkers.